Costa del Sol Holidays
The story goes that the Costa del Sol has been dubbed the California of Europe, but there again, so has the whole of Spain…and Portugal…and Nice in French Provence, although it might be stretching things a bit too far to try and fix the moniker on East Anglia, as Norfolk MP George Freeman did, but to be fair, he was talking about the abundance of technology in the area, not glorious sun and miles of superb beaches to enjoy it on.
Forget all that malarkey about 420 days of sun a year – everywhere in Spain has that other than the far north – but with year-round blue skies there is every reason for Spain’s southern shore to be called the Costa del Sol, the sunshine coast.
Whatever you want from a holiday, the Costa del Sol has it; one-hundred-and-ten miles of superb coastline with the warm, gentle waters of the Mediterranean lapping the shore, bling-full up-market resorts and homely coves for family fun, steamy summer temperatures and wonderful winter warmth. It beats East Anglia any day.
So if you are dithering as to whether the Costa del Sol is where you should be spending this year’s holiday, let me tell you why it is.
It’s not just beaches
As if the beautiful coast and enormous choice of beach holidays wasn’t enough, depending where you are on the Costa del Sol, it’s just a hop by ferry to Morocco and the exotic world of ancient souks and higgledy-piggledy alleyways of the hidden world of the Medina, the heart of traditional Moroccan life.
If your pleasure lies in rustic landscapes you are only a short ride from the traditional white villages of Andalucia, perhaps a visit to the sherry bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera, or maybe a day out to the ciudad de la alegria, Seville, the city of happiness.
Plenty of green to stroll around
There’s nowhere on God’s green acre that has as many golf courses in as close a proximity as there is on the Costa del Sol – at least not in Europe there isn’t anyway. From the elite Valderrama, ‘the yardstick by which all other golf courses in Europe are measured’, according to one knowledgeable enthusiast, to excellent standards at local council run courses, there is a course for everyone no-matter how handicapped their handicap or slim their wallet. More than fifty, and growing.
Horses for courses
You want a beach with buzz and a melange of ages and nationalities? Take yourself to La Fontanella in Marbella. A beach favoured by locals with plenty of chiringuitos (beach bars) serving freshly cooked seafood to drool over? Malága’s La Malagueta is just the place for you.
Whether it’s ‘Diva Devine’ on the sands or bucket, spade and sandcastles with the nippers, you’ll find your beach spot to soak up the sun. And there really is a ‘horses for courses’, because for two weekends in August the beach at Sanlucar de Barrameda becomes a racetrack with the full panoply of spectator stands, bookies pitches, paddocks and winners enclosure taking over the sands.
Peace and quiet
This may seem a bit of a contradiction in terms as far as the Costa del Sol is concerned, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. When most people mention the resorts on the south coast they think of Torremolinos and its tempestuous bars or Porto Banus and the roar of Lamborghinis driven by blondes with wavy tresses and Fort Knox levels of gold dangling from chains, (and that’s just the men), but there are many delightful villages close to the coast where life is so tranquil that you are happy to turn the lights out at ten at night because you’ve had such a wonderfully lethargic day of doing absolutely nothing at all.
When to go
So if it’s so lovely, what’s the best time to go? Now that depends on what you are looking for, doesn’t it?
If you enjoy hot days on the beach or lounging by a pool, then the summer months between June and September will be the best time to visit, although the beaches will be busy.
During July and August the days are hot and dry, with daytime temperatures often scrambling well over 30C, and evening temperatures a lethargy-making 21C (and the height of summer is definitely not the time to be trekking in the mountains).
Spring and autumn are ideal if you like stretching your legs along mountain footpaths, as the days are still warm, an average 22C, with very little rain. Resorts are quieter at this time, although temperatures can reach 25C during April, about the same as the height of summer in the UK – if you are lucky.
If you like blue skies and tucking up in front of an open fire at night, the almost rain-free winter months are perfect; no crowds, no queues, but still with plenty going on. Expect daytime temperatures of 17C during December if you decide to go for Christmas.
But remember, high summer temperatures bring big summer crowds, and the Costa del Sol is just as popular with the Spanish, Germans and French as it is with the British, so if you can possibly take your holidays outside of high season it will definitely be to your advantage.
Getting the best deal
Many people are now choosing to visit the Costa del Sol during the low seasons to take advantage of the reduced prices. Avoiding the busy summer months will bring good discounts on flights and accommodation, and the stable climate means plenty of warm weather.
One way to get excellent discounts is to avoid the school holiday periods such as Easter, October, Christmas and the peak summer months, and you can often find a bargain if you book in advance. And don’t forget the ‘all-inclusive’ options, which can be the perfect way to have an economical holiday, especially if you are travelling as a family.
Find the best holiday prices available by checking our best deals below or browsing our late deals offers.
Airport and transport need to know
There are direct flights from the UK to Costa del Sol year round from most city airports with a flight time of approximately three hours. Malaga Airport (AGP) is an international airport that includes a variety of bars, restaurants and cafeterias as well as duty free shopping, car hire and airport hotels. There is a taxi rank at Terminal 3, but you should get a quote for the fare because Malaga taxis aren’t metered.
There is a train station at the airport as well as the airport shuttle bus service to Marbella, with a transfer time of 45 minutes. Independently booking a private shuttle can save time and expense - fares for a private transfer are 17 euros (£13) per person to Marbella. Car hire is another economical option and can be booked independently online up to 24 hours prior to arriving.
Top resorts in Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is famed for its beautiful beaches, and with over 150km of coastline there is no shortage of space on the soft golden sands. The diversity of the beaches is why this region of Andalusia is so popular; you can choose between quieter family friendly beaches or the livelier resort beaches. Costa del Sol beaches are clean and safe and many have been awarded the coveted European Blue Flag.
Torremolinos is without doubt one of the liveliest resorts much loved by families, couples and groups, especially during the buzzing summer months. Large beaches such as Playamar and Los Alamos are hugely popular during the summer but with six beaches to choose from there should be no problem finding a stretch of sand. Watersports are an option here including water skiing, scuba diving and jet skiing. The aqua park will keep the children entertained and golf is also popular here.
Marbella is known as a glitzy resort favoured by the rich and famous but available to everyone. With 26km of golden sand along the Marbella coastline this is the place to relax on sun loungers and enjoy the scenery at beaches such as Puerto Banus and Buddha Beach. The warm crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving or why not charter a private boat from the marina and enjoy a few hours of dolphin spotting.
If you are looking for one of the best beaches to escape the crowds then consider El Canuelo; a long string of hidden coves located near the town of Nerja. El Canuelo is sheltered by cliffs and has managed to avoid commercialisation. The soft sands lapped by the warm waters are the perfect place to simply relax before dipping into the sea waters to swim or snorkel.